Encroachment Permits

Guide
A drawing of a street segment showing above ground encroachments such as awnings or canopies, benches, and bicycle racks.
The City's policy regarding Encroachments into the Public Right-of-Way. Access the Encroachment Permit Application and find out about the Encroachment Permit Review Process.

Download the City's full policy document Encroachments in the Public Right-of-Way.

What is an encroachment?

An encroachment is a privately owned structure or infrastructure that is placed within the public right-of-way.  Some examples of encroachments are benches, retaining walls, planter boxes, underground shoring, or stairs and handrails located in the public right-of-way.  

What is the Public Right-of-Way?

Most areas that are not private property, or owned by other government agencies such as the Oregon Department of Transportation, are part of the public right-of-way.  This is where streets and sidewalks are located and often includes a buffer area located between the property line and the back of the sidewalk.  The public right-of-way is also the area where most public utilities, such as electrical lines and water lines, are located.  The right-of-way is not always improved to current standards with sidewalks or streets and may look no different than the adjacent private property.  The right-of-way includes the surface at ground level, such as the sidewalk or landscaped areas, as well as those areas that are located below and above ground level.

Can I place something in the Public Right-of-Way?

Most encroachments are only allowed to be placed by, or for, a property owner and only next to the property that they own.  Some types of encroachments are only allowed when placed by a neighborhood organization, a business association, or a franchised utility.

Some types of encroachments are allowed outright without the need for a permit.  Most types of encroachments require a permit, known as a revocable encroachment permit.  Before a revocable encroachment permit can be issued, an application must be submitted for review and approval.

For more details, please review the City of Portland's policy on Encroachments in the Public Right-of-Way.  This policy covers many of the most common types of encroachments and explains when they require a permit and when they don't, as well as other conditions and restrictions that may apply.

Encroachments that are not allowed by the Encroachments in the Public Right-of-Way policy or current City code may still be permitted but will require an appeal to, and approval from, the Encroachment Appeal Committee.

There is another class of encroachment known as "Major Encroachments."  These types of encroachments require approval by City Council and the review process varies from that described on this page.

Quick Guide to the Encroachments in the Public Right-of-Way policy document

  1. Review the table of contentsto see typical encroachments in the right-of-way.
  2. Dimensions and permit requirements are identified for each encroachment in Section C.
  3. Review principles the application will be reviewed against in Sections A and B.
  4. Submit your permit. Using the link at the bottom of this page (for most permits).
Commonly requested encroachment permits

Encroachment

Permit Type

Dimensions and Other Requirements

Bicycle Racks (Standard)

Bike Rack Application Form

TRN 10.09

Bicycle Racks
(Non-Standard)

Bicycle Rack Installation Permit

TRN 10.09

Benches

Revocable Encroachment Permit Application

Encroachments Policy Document (Section C.15)

Garbage Receptacles

Revocable Encroachment Permit Application

Encroachments Policy Document (Section C.17)

Planter Boxes

No permit required, provided the requirements in Section C.18 are met

Encroachment Policy Document (Section C.18)

*Note the property owner is responsible for maintenance and encroachments are subject to removal.

The following apply to all encroachments unless specifically noted (many encroachments have additional requirements):

  1. Outside of the Through Pedestrian Zone (6-8’ of unobstructed walkway)
  2. Outside of the Sidewalk Corner Obstruction-Free Area (extend property lines to curb edge)
  3. Outside of any Bus Zone
  4. Minimum 2' from the curb face
  5. Minimum 5' from fire hydrants
  6. Minimum 3' from utility, light or signal poles, guy wires and driveways

What is a Revocable Encroachment Permit?

A revocable encroachment permit allows the placement of privately owned structures or infrastructure within the public right-of-way.  In addition to allowing placement of an encroachment, the permit also assigns responsibility for the encroachment, the permit also assigns responsibility for the encroachment (liability, maintenance, etc.) and sets conditions, such as joining Oregon One-Call or having liability insurance on file with the City, which may be required to allow the encroachment.

A revocable encroachment permit is revocable.  This means the City may at any time, at its own discretion, revoke the permit and require removal of all permitted encroachments.  

What Does a Revocable Encroachment Permit Cost?  

In a few cases, such as permits for public benches and cross-street banners, the revocable encroachment permit is free.  But these are the exception and most revocable encroachment permits have a cost.  This allows the City to recover the cost of reviewing and writing the Encroachment permit.  Fees are only assessed if a permit is issued; there is no fee for reviewing your application unless an appeal is required.

Permit Fee:  The standard permit fee is $679.00 (Effective July 1, 2022)
Review Fee:  Some types of structures or infrastructure, such as walls or shoring, may require structural review and/or inspections.  The review fee amount varies based on the specific review and/or inspection requirements.
Appeal Fee:  Encroachments that do not meet the policy, or are not listed in the policy, require approval by the Encroachment Advisory Review Committee.  A non-refundable fee of $200 is required to file the appeal.
Recording Fee:  Some permits must be filed with the County's property records.  The recording fee is set by the County and is not collected by the City.  For information about the recording process in Multnomah County, please visit https://multco.us/recording/recording-documents.

Major Encroachments require approval by the City Council and will incur significantly greater cost than those listed on this page.

How do I apply for a revocable encroachment permit?

Start by downloading and completing the Revocable Encroachment Permit Application

Follow all of the instructions carefully and submit all required items, such as a site plan and other exhibits detailing the requested encroachment, with your application.  Do not submit the permit fee with your application; this will be due at the time of permit issuance.

The application and all supporting documentation should be emailed to encroachments@portlandoregon.gov.  
 

What happens after I apply?

After your application is submitted it will be reviewed by City staff to determine if the application is complete and if the proposed encroachment meets the policy.  If the application is incomplete or if more information is needed, you will be contacted with a request for the needed changes.  If the policy is met and the proposed encroachment is approved, you will be contacted regarding permit issuance and payment of the permit fee as well as any additional reviews that may be required.

If the policy is not met then you may choose to file an appeal.  No additional paperwork is required to file an appeal, only payment of the $200 appeal fee.  City staff will contact you to discuss why your application did not meet the policy.  If you choose to appeal, your appeal will be considered at the next meeting of the Encroachment Advisory Review Committee.